Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one. During her journey to establish and grow her nonprofit tutoring collaborative she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.
After a series of workshops held by community leaders, endless peer presentations reflecting our leadership skills, and extensive discussions about what Worcester needs, Leadership Worcester has come to an end for the 2016-17 class.
In this joint initiative of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and Greater Worcester Community Foundation, 25 “promising new professionals” connected through their various professional and personal backgrounds to talk about the future of Worcester — and quite honestly, they couldn’t have selected a better group of motivated, strong-minded and opinionated individuals.
On a mission to keep us all inspired up to the last minute — after months of skills development, training and networking — our final project was to sum up our experience in a six-word memoir. After a few minutes of debating and battling to bring the program full circle in only a few words, I stumbled upon my “ah-ha!” moment.
I realized Leadership Worcester was never really about building leaders. Instead, for me, it was about helping existing leaders learn to collaborate with others, to be the change we want to see.
Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The one dedicated to mom, or scroll down to explore more of her story.
The notion that there is strength in numbers became a common theme, one that recurred subtly in every discussion and every meeting but never truly showed itself until the end. Uniting a group of leaders cultivated in me a feeling of greatness, even invincibility.
If before joining Leadership Worcester you doubted your abilities and talents, by the end of the program your doubts were gone. And while the programming itself was motivational, the true inspiration sprouted from the other members of the group, including city officials, attorneys, educators, and even a chef.
It sparked thorough private conversations and independent meetings outside of the designated monthly schedule. It was in these informal discussions that innovation and creativity really shined.
As a small-business owner constantly struggling to maintain the momentum and direction of The Learning Hub with limited resources, I found this group of inspirational leaders the most valuable aspects of the program. Sitting among leaders with big dreams and vision is exactly where a small business owner should be — if she’s not at work — collaborating with others who share a passion.
Through collaboration and civic engagement, small businesses find a competitive advantage in their attempts to build a brand and ultimately empower entrepreneurs. It gives us the opportunity to build a strong impression by partnering with other local leaders and businesses to give our consumers distinguishable value and also to collectively advance the local economy.
When companies and people come together with a common goal or mission, they can generate the most creative of ways to establish an influence and presence that is greater than could be achieved independently.
Leadership Worcester has given me an opportunity to collaborate with some of the city’s most undervalued programs and individuals.
From being a panelist at the Woostapreneur Forum, the guest speaker at the MCPHS civic engagement affiliate luncheon and a guest speaker at North High School’s entrepreneurial program, my notion that collaboration is vital between small businesses has been validated.
Over the next few weeks, The Learning Hub will be collaborating with some of the city’s staple institutions and retail businesses to enhance our reachability and mission to increase STEAM accessibility. It is through these new community connections that The Learning Hub has gained the momentum it holds.
With the realization of the importance of collaborations and community engagement coupled with the vision of my position in the community, my six-word memoir became clear:
Leaders are powerful when empowering others.
Follow Giselle’s inspiring story from the beginning: